As I mentioned in my post about my favorite smartphones, the Moto Z Play released in 2016 is one of my favorite budget phones. The Moto Z Play hit all of the right notes in price, design, battery life, and functionality. I was excited to try it’s successor, the Moto Z2 Play, which was released last year. The Z2 Play was not received well by many reviewers, as the Snapdragon 626 processor and smaller battery was seen as a sidegrade from its predecessor.
After a few days with the Z2 Play, I was ready to call it my new favorite budget phone. Until Verizon rained on my parade.
If you’ve read my other posts on this site, you might already know that I was a big Microsoft fan a couple years ago. I started my journey when I bought a Surface RT on the launch day in a Microsoft Store. For the next few years, the only computers I purchased were Surfaces. When I purchased my Surface Pro 2, I kept the original RT in my dorm room for some time before passing it down to my mom. My mom used it in tandem with a traditional laptop for a couple years, but never got extensive use out of it. Now, more than 5 years after buying my Surface RT, I have retrieved it from storage, and I plan to tell you what it’s like to use the Surface RT.
I have never been considered myself a Pixel / Nexus “purist”. There are a number of Android fans out there who believe that Google’s more slimmed down version of Android is the best because it doesn’t have all of the bloat that Samsung’s or LG’s versions do. I prefer not calling it “stock” android, because I know that Google adds quite a bit, but it does feel generally cleaner.
The Pixel 2 XL was released last Fall, and received with a lot of criticism. I can confidently say that if you want a more “pure” Android experience, no other phones will compare to the Pixel 2 XL.
Instead of iterating again with a Samsung Gear S4 this year, Samsung took a side step from the Gear S3 Frontier and Classic by releasing the Gear Sport. Instead of replacing the Gear S3, the Sport was made to round out Samsung’s smartwatch line with a smaller, sportier option than the larger Frontier and Classic. Samsung is trying to compete with Apple’s Watch, which is applauded for its exercise tracking abilities. Unlike Apple’s Watch Series 3, Samsung is not offering an LTE model of the Sport. Although Samsung has solidified its smartwatch line, and the Sport may be one of the best smartwatches Samsung has ever made, it’s a good thing they didn’t call it the Gear S4, because it’s quite an iterative upgrade.
I have been a fan of the Surface line of products since the first Surface RT tablet was released in 2012. Microsoft predicated the Surface line on being versatile, and combining the usability of a tablet with the functionality of a laptop. Microsoft followed up the Surface form factor with the Surface Book, which took the 2-in-1 approach from the opposite direction – notebook first, then optional tablet. The third form factor in the Surface family was the Surface Studio. Microsoft didn’t make nearly as many waves with this product, because it was a niche product – very few individuals were asking for an all-in-one that could fold down nearly flat onto their desktop for a drawing easel.
Most recently, Microsoft has extended the Surface family to the Surface Laptop – the first true clamshell laptop that Microsoft has ever produced.
The Surface Laptop stands in a confusing place. It is both one of the best laptops ever made, and one of the worst Surfaces ever made.
When the original Pixel was announced last year, I was not impressed. Google had been selling phones for years under the Nexus program, even though technically the phones were manufactured by other companies. Nexuses were always praised for having strong software, but not always applauded for their hardware. Last year, Google’s Pixels were phones they designed from the ground up, and the first phones to be “Made by Google.” There were still similarities to the earlier Nexuses: the Pixel had great software, but did not have the most modern design.